Amid Daphne du Maurier's vast stack of acclaimed works lies her 1957 bestseller The Scapegoat. An entertaining and suspenseful tale of a successful facade, The Scapegoat is a type of bestseller that gains a large following because of authorial name recognition, and the wide-spread approval of the desired audience. This book's divulges that fictional popularity divulges from the opinions of the books contemporary audience and recognition that is gained in some manner. The ways range from publicity to the story's entertainment radar. Daphne du Maurier is an author who recognizes what her audience wants and she is successful with The Scapegoat.
Within The Scapegoat by Daphne du Maurier, a reserved professor named John succumbs to the temptation to live his doppelganger's life. John pretends to be Jean du Gue, the lazy owner of a glass foundry, as he interacts with de Gue's family, employees, and mistress. What attracted this reader to the story is the unrelenting desire to know more, to dig deeper in the family's life and unending mysteries the story holds. In particular, why Jean's sister Blache refuses to talk to Jean and why Jean wants John to fill his place.
Before The Scapegoat , Daphne du Maurier already gained public approval from the success and critical approval of her other works, including Rebecca . du Maurier's popularity began in the 1930's with her books departing from the typical "mass-marketed romance" (Kelly 35) as her romantic work "tapped the deep feelings of her audience and its needs for fantasy at a time when escape from reality, especially for women was intensely sought" (Kelly 36). Daphne du Maurier's ability to fulfill a unique take on the popular romantic genre explains why she had a wide public readership. She entrained her audience with stories the satisfied their desire to have a vicarious position during troubles faced in society. In the The Scapegoat , readers become intimate with the human want to live anthers's life that appears on to be less mundane. It is unlikely the reader will risk John's actions. The drama relates emotions from various characters, like Paul's anger. The beginning's tone is full of homelessness that provides individuality to the depiction of true French rural life intrigue the reader.
Next, the book correlates with the time period's predicaments and provides district perspectives. For instance, the "increasing rigidificaiton of gender roles in the aftermath of World War Two" (Horner 157) is examined in the characterizations. The men, Paul, Jacque and Jean, of the de Gue family are the ones expected to run the glass foundry business and set up the hunting event, while the women, Renee and Francoise, live simple, domestic lives. A poignant discussion between Jean and a glass foundry worker explores an outside and inside perspective of what it was like for a non-soldier to work during the war.
Additionally, its Daphne du Maurier writing style lends to the book's approval. du Maurier's writing entertains the reader executing techniques like implementing her family history to tell the book's story, questioning of identity, and her writing style. In The Scapegoat du Maurier combines the first two factors as she "negotiates the tension between such stereotypes [French] and her own sense of French identity" (Horner 147). For example, the French stereotype of love affairs is prevalent with Jean's infidelity with Francoise. The narrator is used to do more than debacle the stereotype. In fact the reader finds, as the narrator does, that the love affair with Renee reveals the unsatisfying life of women during the book's period and the love affair with Blache reflects the human need for unquestioning companionship.
Meanwhile, du Maurier's has a formula that entertains her romantic thriller audience and makes them want to continue reading her work. du Maurier has "each scene and each act leaves in the mind of the audience an unanswered question sufficiently captivating to bring it back to its seat after each intermission" (Stockwell 220). This formula delights du Maurier audience because it merit to the human curiosity and gives the reader's a reason to continue. The suspenseful progression is evident in The Scapegoat . Various bread crumbs, like initial impressions of the de Gue family and later pictures of the family in the past, lead to the jackpot of the full truth of The Scapegoat 's various mysteries. If their was with no previous hints, the reader would just want to read the end.
du Maurier's style entertains the reader similar to other bestsellers of the time period. The author is skilled in dialogue and providing vivid depictions of setting that establish the mood. The 1952 bestseller Giant by Edna Ferber also implements vigorous depictions of Texan life coinciding with dialogue. However, unlike Giant , The Scapegoat succeeds more with balanced transgressions between dialogue and description. An example of du Maurier's skill is the following,
"All right,' I said, "I've apologized. I can't do more. if you won't believe the thing was a mistake, there is no more to be said.'
The Forest closed in upon us, not a forbidding darkness but golden green, a tangle of oak, hornbeam, chestnut, beech - all the trees whose leaf gives light instead of shadow, whose branches spread with time, whose stems grow paler." (du Maurier 96)
The beautiful setting descriptions continues the weary tone from John's statement while also leaving a distinctive picture in the reader's mind. Therefore, quality writing is a high reason for The Scapegoat 's dissent in to becoming a bestseller. The books allows the reader to see into another persons' life.
The Scapegoat may not be an example of academic literature, but it does hold merit with its ingenuity and ability to satisfy the romantic and gothic audience. The story wins recognition from quality writing, public knowledge of the author and way it expands on satisfying readers.
Horner, Avril, and Sue Zlosnik. Daphne DuMaurier: Writing, Identity and the Gothic Imagination. Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1999. Print.
Kelly, Richard. Daphne Du Maurier. Boston: Twayne, 1987. Print.
Maurier, Daphne du. The Scapegoat. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1957. Print.
Stockwell, Latourette. "Best Sellers and the Critics: A Case History." The English Journal 44.1 (1955): 214-21. JSTOR. Web. 25 Apr. 2014. .